Pens – what colour is acceptable to sign a legal document?
We recently had a client who urgently contacted us saying that she had signed a document with a green pen, and was this alright.
We entered into a bit of an email exchange about this, but we advised her that we knew no rule of law that said anything about the colour, or for that matter, the type of pen that must be used to sign a document.
So, a document will not be invalidated because ink other than blue or black is used, or for that matter a lead pencil is used.
You could also sign in blood – this would not invalidate the document.
There are however some rules of practice that, for instance, are adopted by courts or other government bodies. For example, Wills should be signed by the Willmaker and the two witnesses using the same pen – but this is not a rule of law and a Will signed using different pens will not be invalid (although it may be more difficult to prove that it was validly executed with the two witnesses present with the Willmaker). We think also that the New South Wales Titles Office insists upon black pens being used.
Our own preference is to use blue ink. This is so as to more easily distinguish between the original document and a photocopy. Photocopies/scans these days are so good that it is often difficult to determine whether they are copies or originals if black ink was originally used (at least for black and white prints). The blue ink will immediately tell you which is the original.
We are looking forward to receiving the green ink signed document in the post. When someone tells us that you cannot do that we will be asking for the legislative provision that says we cannot. It will be difficult to find.